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~ Friday, August 02, 2002
There is only a tiny mention in this story about the PM's visit to Vancouver, but it seems to me it should be at the top. RCMP busted a guy with an invitation because he had a piece of pie (or cake, depending on where you hear your report). I have a good friend who is an RCMP Sergeant in the lower mainland, and I truly respect the job that he and his fellow members do, but someone, somewhere, needs to look at why this sort of crap happens whenever the Prime Minister is involved. Or, more sensibly, why the teflon seems to still be working for him.
~ Thursday, August 01, 2002
We're here now in Peace River, Alberta, a smallish town where my wife grew up and where my father would often spend his childhood summers. I have family here, but there were no connections made here with Jo; I met her through Randy at a party some years ago, when she was in library school.
I'm wandering here, aren't I? Today's drive gave me the second-worst driving-related scare of my life, a bit below the time I rolled 1.5 times into a ditch at 90 km/h. We were on the highway, in the mountains, and the kids were playing 20 Questions with us. Smart guy that I am, I pay attention to the road when I play these games, and today was proof that this is a Good Thing to do. Coming around a corner that swings to the right (so I was on the inside), an RV towing a car was approaching us, on the outside lane. As I watched, the left rear axle of the RV snapped off and the great beast (30 feet? 40? I don't recall) dropped to the road. Flames flew out from the wheel well, and the double-wheel and tire combination went bouncing, I'd say between 80 and 95 km/h.
I immediately hauled on the brakes and swung way over to the side of the road, came to a stop under a steep cliff. The RV sailed on past, and by this time I had no idea where the tires and wheels were; I was just thankful they had not plowed into the car, something that would likely as not have killed, not injured me and mine. I got out and ran across the road and saw that by some miracle the RV had come to a safe stop at the bottom of the road.
Time for a word picture: If he had lost control and swung to the right, he would have gone over the edge and dropped 15 or 20 meters into a slough that pretends it's a lake. If he had swung to the left, he would have been lucky that there was no more traffic coming, but he would have hit the ditch hard, or perhaps even over-compensated and slammed into the cliff behind me. If he hadn't been able to hang on, he probably would have tipped, and perhaps hit the cement barrier at just the right angle to cut through the big windshields, killing the two in the front seats.
But he did none of that. An amazingly straight skid line led for almost a kilometre, and he was parked at the side of the road, no less. I got back in the car, turned around, and drove down, heart racing like I'd just swallowed a handful of uppers. SMoke was still pouring from the wheel well, and a lady (probably in her 70s) and a boy, about 11, were climbing out. I asked if she had any fire extinguishers, and she brought me two. I emptied both on the RV, which was flaming but was hissing as well as smoking, and which was leaking all sorts of fluids. A chemical tang pervaded, and the road was caked in white, and twice Jo had to yell at me to step off the road so some yahoo wouldn't run me down while ignoring the thick pall of chemical powder and smoke.
The woman's husband came out next, the driver. They were from Washington, had taken their grandson on holidays to Alaska, and Grandpa had broken his foot there, so he was moving slowly on crutches. We talked for a minute, made sure everyone was indeed OK, then I took a flare up the road and struck it, then managed to flag down someone with a satellite phone.
We left them a few minutes later, glad they were safe. All told, the whole episode probably took about 20 minutes, although it still feels like almost no time was taken. My hands were shaking for a good hour after that, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, usually when I let my imagination take me to all of the Could Haves.
~ Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Hopefully, my sister Joy-Anne doesn't read this blog, because I just found out what her Christmas present will be: Black Sabbath sung in Latin, 14th century-style. I just listened to the MP3 of "War Pigs", and all I have to say is "Wow". Thanks to Mark Shainblum for pointing this out.
500 pounds of unsalted butter gets you an excuse to set up the Butter Cow Cam! I imagine trying to tip her would be a tad messy.
Related to the giant Star Wars ship that was for sale on eBay, here's a MechStar playhouse. I don't know what ComStar Guard is, but then, I'm old and out of touch these days. (Thanks to boing boing)
~ Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Sorta related to the previous post: We live in a cool world, sometimes, with plenty of signs that yes, maybe, the SF age is just around the corner. Laser-propulsion for paper airplanes? Check. Scramjet? Check.
The new space race appears to be building up steam. I knew that this Canadian crew was claiming they had a good design, but it's good to hear that they are testing things that actually work.
And speaking of cartoons, here's some interesting news about everyone's favorite web-slinger.
You know, with all the other stuff going on in the world, it's remarkably anal and shallow of me to care about this, but so what: Good for Bugs! But what I don't get is how Mickey can place so far down the list, and how Daffy ends up behind Fat Albert, of all people!
Bloodhag is a speed metal band from Seattle who got a mention on NPR over the weekend. The beauty of these guys is the fact that they are all book geeks, and every one of their songs is about science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. They've played in libraries, and throw books at their fans. The site is worth dropping by.
~ Monday, July 29, 2002
Tip o' the hat to Aaron V. Humphrey at the Den of Ubiquity for the right type of unsolicited advice: the welcome kind.
The horror, the horror! I recall playing in a baseball tournament at Telus Field, and a cow mascot for a country station was there. Aidan has never been so terrified in his life. Not that the kids ever let Jo watch me play soccer or baseball, but this time I think she had to physically leave the facility.
You're not allowed to kill civilians. Slacktivist has become my favorite blog, not the least of which he's like me and can't figure out how to put up permanent links and the like. Which perhaps I'll get help on when I'm away next week. Anyhow, back to the topic at hand. There are great links here, to both sides of the coin, and some cogent arguing, coupled with a few bludgeons. Well done.
~ Sunday, July 28, 2002
Oof. Played soccer on Friday night, the first time since we moved here in October. They take the game way serious here, making you try out for teams, and up to my age (39) you play the Open game, along with teen all-stars. In Edmonton and Logan, it was a tad more casual; teams that wanted to be anal and serious could be, but for everyone else it was an open-door policy, and as long as you wanted to play and were willing to come out, you were in.
I could make any team I try out for, no problem. I'm a good player, best on my team and leading scorer in Logan, but I don't have the time to commit to two games and one practice a week. I write, I work part time, I'm in university, and I coach Aidan's team. I'd like to still have a life. But I found this Friday night group, just a drop-in thing, and the other day there were 12 of us, playing on a shortened field. Felt good, although I do ache.
Next up: golf, in Peace River next Saturday. Haven't been on the links for two years now.